Lightning and Senators Strike, Another Vegas Goalie Down, plus more...
Let’s cut right to the chase for a Saturday that had its share of offense, hopefully for your fantasy team.
The score that was the most eye-popping of the night was the Tampa Bay – Pittsburgh game. Thought to be a possible preview of the Eastern Conference Final, this game got out of hand very quickly, with your Bolts having a far more successful night than your Pens.
We shouldn’t be surprised at all that Nikita Kucherov scored two goals and added an assist. He has scored at least one point in each of his nine games played, has multiple points in six of those nine games, and goals in all but one of those games. That Kucherov – Steven Stamkos line? Yeah, it works, and then some.
Then there’s Stamkos. You knew you were taking a bit of a chance on him given his recent injury history. But with a goal and three assists in this game, he’s doing some serious damage for fantasy teams. He also has yet to be held off the scoresheet in nine games. At this point it will be interesting to see how long the two of them can continue this dual point streak.
What about the third guy on this line? Vladislav Namestnikov needs to be universally owned at this point on association alone. You’ll be interested to know that with two assists in this game, Namestnikov has points in eight of nine games this season with ten points on the season. If he manages to stick on this line all season, he could be your breakout player of the season. Yes, it’s too early to be making such a bold prediction, but life is grand for Namestnikov at the moment.
Mikhail Sergachev scored another goal and added an assist. Again, I don’t think he’ll keep up this pace (eight points in nine games). But the fact that the game became one-sided allowed the Bolts to spread the icetime among their seven defensemen more evenly, so Sergachev played nearly 17 minutes. No Bolts’ blueliner reached the 20-minute mark in icetime, which is a rarity in a game nowadays.
On the Penguins’ side of things, Antti Niemi was left in for all seven goals. He’s allowed at least four goals in each of his three starts, which looks even worse if you consider that he lasted less than ten minutes in the four-goal outing. So his goals-against average is an astounding 7.50. Pittsburgh needs a different backup. Maybe they should try to sign Colin Kaep… oops, sorry, wrong sport.
At least Sidney Crosby contributed something in the penalty minutes category. He took a two-minute minor, then argued with the refs afterward and received a ten-minute misconduct. Not a night for him to remember.
On one fantasy team I have Frederik Andersen starting. On another fantasy team I have Craig Anderson starting. 1-0 shootout win, please? Of course not. The Leafs-Sens game was filled with goals. The only scenario that’s worse when two of your goalies face each other would be watching both goalies get pulled after allowing a ton of goals and a backup vulturing a win. At least that didn’t happen with the Sens’ goalie pulling off the win in spite of allowing three third-period goals.
Derick Brassard and Mark Stone had a night, each scoring two goals and adding an assist with a plus-4. Stone also fired seven shots on goal to provide his owners with plenty of returns. Stone will be owned in almost all leagues that take fantasy hockey seriously, but Brassard is still unowned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. I mentioned Brassard in my most recent Finding Fantasy Value over at Sportsnet. Hopefully you took note, since he’s now up to ten points (6g-4a) with a plus-10 in just eight games. With a shooting accuracy of around 25 percent, though, don’t expect the goals to continue to pile up. But I still like him to rebound to his career norms points-wise.
It wasn’t all good for the Sens though. Bobby Ryan, the third man on the Stone-Brassard line, left this game and will be out a little while.
Bobby Ryan is out at least a month. Broken finger. By my count, that's 5 broken fingers for him in just under 3 years. Unbelievable.
— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) October 22, 2017
If there’s a drawback to adding Brassard, that might be it. With an assist in this game before leaving, Ryan had six assists (but no goals) to his name, so this injury is unfortunate in what he hopes will be a rebound season. In the meantime, keep an eye on who is slotted in as the third man on the sizzling Brassard-Stone combo.
The Kings-Blue Jackets game also had a pile of goals. One of the league’s strongest lines thus far has been one centered by Anze Kopitar, who added another two goals with an assist and a plus-5. Kopi now has six goals and five assists with a plus-11 in just seven games. How disappointing was Kopitar’s 2016-17 season? On March 1 he was still stuck at six goals.
So who are the other two players on this Kopitar line? Try the unknown Alex Iafallo and Dustin Brown, who you might have written off even before the Kings won their second Stanley Cup. Yet with a goal and three assists on Saturday, the former captain has the same point total as the current captain.
Brown actually improved from 28 points to 36 points last season, so a 40-point season at this point is well within reach. A 16.7% shooting accuracy is significantly higher than normal, but Brown is helping his cause by taking over four shots per game. With Jeff Carter out for a while, Brown and his line will be leaned on even more for offense. I didn’t think this would happen, but Brown might be fantasy relevant again.
It’s been feast or famine for Logan Couture this season. Couture has been held without a point in four of his seven games. But in two of those other three games, Couture has absolutely exploded. After scoring four points on Tuesday against the Canadiens, Couture fired a hat trick on Saturday against the Islanders. With five goals and seven points this week, Couture is helping many fantasy owners win their head-to-head matchups this week.
The Sharks-Islanders game provided its share of scoring. The Anders Lee-John Tavares duo filled the scoresheet, each recording three points (Lee 2g-1a, Tavares 1g-2a). After another goal-heavy statline last season (34 goals to just 18 assists), Lee is providing more of the same in 2017-18 with five goals to just one assist.
Josh Bailey scored a goal and added an assist. The goal is worth watching.
Josh Bailey with a disgusting goal for the Islanders tonight pic.twitter.com/UNT2hbaNoz
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 22, 2017
Here’s a great goaltending performance: James Reimer stopped 41 of 42 shots in earning a win over the Capitals. Roberto Luongo has just been placed on IR, so Reimer will see plenty of work next week and possibly beyond. Reimer is only owned in about 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he’s worth a grab if you need a goalie right away. Even if you’re a Leafs’ fan who lost faith in him a while ago.
If your league still counts game-winning goals (none of mine do anymore), Wayne Simmonds is your man. Simmonds scored his fourth game-winning goal of the season on Saturday afternoon to tie him with Brandon Saad for the league lead. His six goals on the season ties him for fourth with a large mass of other players.
Entering the season, we weren’t that concerned about wins for Henrik Lundqvist because of the number of games he should start. But his goals-against average and save percentage were trending in the wrong direction. So it was a relief for his owners to see him win his first game in five attempts on Saturday afternoon. The Rangers’ recent struggles should be a concern for Lundqvist, as he will be a below-average goalie if wins are suddenly hard to come by.
That’s back-to-back two-point games for Jeff Skinner, who scored twice on Saturday. He now has five goals over his last five games. Very underrated in fantasy leagues.
Jaromir Jagr left Saturday’s game in the first period with a lower-body injury. I have a feeling it wasn’t serious, as he was able to complete the After Hours interview after the game and did not look hobbled. But I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV either.
With a goal on Saturday, Sean Monahan now has goals in five of his last six games. It should be another productive season for Monahan, who was two points shy of reaching his third consecutive 60-point season last season.
Are you buying into Chris Stewart yet? Because he scored yet again on Saturday to give him six goals in six games. Since he’s holding the hot stick, he’s been moved onto a scoring line with Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker. But with a shooting percentage of nearly 43 percent (!) you know how the numbers will eventually play out.
The Vegas Golden Knights are winning so often now, it’s not even surprising when they do anymore. On Saturday night it was a 3-2 overtime win over the Blues. But the news wasn’t all good in Vegas, as yet another goalie falls to injury. Malcolm Subban stopped 37 of 38 shots before leaving the game in the third period. And according to John Shannon of Sportsnet, it might be more than a short-term injury.
Malcolm Subban will have an MRI on Sunday after being injured on a save in the 3rd vs St. Louis. Team source says "probably out weeks"
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) October 22, 2017
So who is the Golden Knights’ third-string goalie, you ask? That would be Oscar Dansk, who was a former Blue Jackets’ draft pick who signed as a free agent with the Knights. He stopped 10 of 11 shots to earn a win that probably no one in the fantasy world benefitted from. So he might be your Vegas starter for the foreseeable future and a worthy add if you think this Vegas team can keep this up.
This news also overshadows the recent exploits of Reilly Smith, who with a goal and two assists on Saturday has five points in his last two games. Linemate William Karlsson, who scored the overtime winner, has four points in his last three games.
Finally, because we can’t have enough Gord Downie tributes, here’s the one from the beginning of Hockey Night in Canada tonight.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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